Report Shows How Dark Money from Group Involved in Illegal Coordination With Ernst is Now Funding Group’s Explicit Strategy to Prop Up Ernst’s Re-Election Campaign

This morning, an Iowa Starting Line report uncovered how Senator Joni Ernst’s dark money group Iowa Values – with which Ernst illegally worked in “close concert” – has “funneled” over $1 million in dark money to their affiliate super PAC in order to bankroll a seven-figure pro-Ernst ad campaign.

The new report clearly details how Ernst’s illegal dark money scandal has come to fruition. Ernst’s top aides set up this dark money group with the expressed purpose to prop up her re-election, she was caught illegally coordinating with them, and now, her group is using dark money to fund a smear ad campaign trying to cover up Ernst’s disastrous record in Washington. 

In the 11 months since an AP investigation uncovered this dark money scandal, Senator Ernst has not once come clean about her role in this illegal coordination.

According to President Tiffany Muller of campaign finance watchdog End Citizens United, this scheme has enabled Ernst’s big money donors to “spend unlimited money in the race while hiding their identities from the public.”

“Today’s report is damning evidence that Senator Ernst knows she can’t win re-election by merits, and instead has relied on an illegal operation run by her top aides to prop up her failing campaign in the final days of the election,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson.”It’s clear why Senator Ernst has no plan for campaign finance reform and has even voted to protect dark money secrecy. If Ernst doesn’t respect Iowans enough to come clean on this corrupt arrangement, then she has absolutely no business serving another term in Washington.”

Senator Ernst’s dark money scandal has been years in the making:

  • In 2017, Ernst’s top aides formed Iowa Values to begin raising dark money.
  • In 2019, a bombshell AP investigation uncovered how Ernst was caught illegally coordinating with Iowa Values.
  • Multiple complaints with the FEC and IRS were filed against Ernst and Iowa Values for the illegal arrangement, including from the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center.
  • Throughout 2020, Ernst has continued to fundraise with the consultant at the center of her dark money scandal.
  • In May, Ernst was caught running a payroll scheme, concealing the identity of her staffers just as Iowa Values “ramped up to support her reelection bid.”
  • On October 14, a federal judge ordered the FEC to take action on a complaint against Iowa Values.

On October 16, Ernst’s allies in the Trump Administration took a “shady and completely improper step” trying to shield Iowa Values from the court order.